Melting ice in freezing cold

The rare consensus between the bitterly hostile sides have sparked off speculation of a ‘grand reconciliation’

Rizwan Shehzad January 04, 2020

ISLAMABAD: While the country is in the grip of a freezing cold snap, frosty relations between the government and the opposition have begun to thaw. The rare consensus between the bitterly hostile sides in parliament sparked off speculation that ‘grand reconciliation’ is in the making.

Friday’s session of the National Assembly was arguably the most uneventful sitting of the house that went without kerfuffle or verbal duels between two sides of the aisle. Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak tabled three proposed laws pertaining to the country’s armed forces which were subsequently referred to the defence committees of parliament where they were approved with one voice.

In the past, lawmakers from the main opposition parties -- the PML-N and the PPP -- confronted the treasury on anything and everything, triggering slugfests in almost every session. The new-found bonhomie has taken many political observers by surprise who wonder if “grand reconciliation” was in the offing.

The rare unanimity between the government and the opposition would ensure that the proposed laws smoothly sail through both the houses of parliament. The observers believe amicable legislation on the matter of services chiefs would send out a message to the world that all parties would give up their political differences on issues pertaining to the security institutions of Pakistan.

The PML-N has offered “unconditional support” to the government and the PPP has also not set any condition for backing the proposed law. Indications are that this unanimity is not one off. Sci-Tech Minister Fawad Chaudhry recently said that the government and the opposition would also agree on “minimum agenda” for other contentious issues too.

Bill on services chiefs all set for smooth-sailing in NA

This might have taken many by surprise, but TV anchor Saleem Safi claimed that the two sides had virtually buried the hatchets a few months ago and that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s departure to London and Maryam Safdar’s conspicuous silence were part of a reconciliation process.

“Whatever is happening didn’t start today,” Safi said while speaking in Express News show, The Review. “The two sides had reached a settlement before JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s dharna in Islamabad. And under the agreement, the PTI and the PML-N have started giving concessions to each other. Nawaz Sharif’s departure and Maryam Nawaz’s silence are part of that process,” he claimed.

Safi claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had tried his best to spoil the process because “he [PM] wanted either the judiciary or the opposition should be held responsible for it.”

Asked how the PML-N would benefit from this reconciliation process, Safi said the party would not benefit from sticking to its old narrative either. After his disqualification,

Nawaz Sharif had championed the narrative of “Vote Ko Izzat Do” (Give respect to vote) which only added to its woes.

“The PML-N has taken a lot of advantage of repeated U-turn of the PTI government and it will benefit more in the future,” Safi added.

He also believed that the PML-N’s old narrative had been promoted for political gains. The narrative, which sought to confront the powers that be, had clearly divided the PML-N between two camps: one was led by Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, while Shehbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan were in the other camp.

“Morally, Maryam Nawaz should pay a visit to Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and seek an apology from him as his narrative has prevailed,” Safi said.

Safi sees “grand reconciliation” in the making, though, according to him, the prime minister believes it would favour the PML-N and PPP more than PTI.


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